tv [untitled] April 8, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT
feeling that one confederate soldier could still have some hiring, and that was washed away in the bloodbath of shiloh. shiloh pronounced that both sides are still steeled in the idealogy that brought them into the conflict and divided the nation that this thing was going to play out over an expended period of time, and shiloh was going to be the first example of what was going to be a major blood bloodletting. total war was into play and they had just entered the first phase of war. so we tell people there will be three more months of bloodshed before this war is resolved, and shiloh pointed the pathway toward that extended bloodletting. but it's just the first in a long list of similar killing days in the civil war. the union army is still here, confederate army falls back to coren. both sides are in the same positions they were when the
battle began. but grant had not been defeated. buell had made the juncture and those railroads lay waiting for the next union strike. >> you can watch this or other american history tv programs on the civil war at any time by visiting our web site, cspan.org/history. as commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the civil war continues, join us every saturday at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. and sundays at 11:00 a.m. for programs featuring the civil war. for more information about american history tv on cspan-3, including our complete schedule, go to cspan.org/history. to enter your questions, follow us on twitter. we're on
twitter.com/cspanhistory. an air of mystery has surrounded this bronze likeness of alexander hamilton since the day it was unveiled in 1923. there is a definitive book on the sculpture in washington, d.c. president warren harding made reference to an anonymous donor. might it possibly have been the gift of andrew melon who admireres of the '20s like to describe as the greatest secretary since alexander himself. the protege wears a slightly quizzical look on his handsome face. perhaps he is straining to recognize his surroundings. after all, it was his famous deal that led to federal assumption in return for the
capital's removal for an entire new city to be built on the banks of the potomac. the pedestal on which he stands makes no reference to hamilton's real estate transactions. it pays tribute instead to his financial genius. he smoked the rock of the national resources that reads, and abundant themes of revenue gushed forth. he touched the credit that sprayed upon his feet. each week, american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1:00 p.m. this week former general counsel to the republican national committee, david norcross, looks at edmond burke in national
conservatism. mr. norcross guest lectured in south carolina in a corps called the or engines of modern conservatism. this is an hour and a half. >> he is indeed a great friend, which i suppose explains the generosity of that introduction. i thank you. this topic is particularly apt today. you hear a lot, particularly in the republican primary, about who is a conservative, who is not, what is a conservative? and you could do no better than edmond b ururke as a template f what conservatism really is. so you might ask somebody whom
you wonder whether they are conservative or not, what do you know about edmund burke? clearly not every conservative knows a whole lot about edmund burke. many have probably not read edmund burke. we can move to some things you're going to hear about today and talk to them about what they think about these various principles. i think edmund burke and his principles describe the classic conservative. now, somebody's political philosophy, right, left, center, how far right, how far left, is a pretty personal thing and it's pretty complex. and the use of labels is probably not the best of ideas. but in your own mind, you probably want to know. mallory mentioned the fact that in new york, i had to deal with folks of all stripes, all republicans, left, right,
center, the republican party, and one of the ways i did that was by not trying to put any of them into a particular box. but burke will give us a yardstick, a box, if you will, to see whether principles or people fit and give you a way to judge how they think. you can't understand burke without understanding english history. and i think you cannot understand the origins of america and, therefore, american history unless you understand burke. so i guess what i'm really saying, bottom line, about all of that is you can't really understand american history, american political philosophy, american conservatism without an understanding of english
history. i have thought for many years that american history really didn't begin to start in 1776 or even 1750. it started probably in the norman con quest of england in 1066. and that -- understanding that helps you understand burke because it is that background and that history that it all happened before edmund burke arrived on the scene in 1729. consider that just 40 years before burke was born -- that takes us, what, back to about 1970? a long time ago for many of you, not so long for me. but just 40 years before burke
was born, there was an english revolution. it was called the glorious revolution. it was, for the most part, bloodless. michael barone, i think, is going to talk sometime in this series, and michael barone is the author of a book which you definitely should all read whether it ends up in the required reading or not. i almost put it on my list, because he talks about the glorious revolution, only he calls it our first revolution. that was 1689. and the english at that point, in essence, picked a king. it's interesting to read burke's explanation of how they picked a king but didn't elect a king, and there are some nuances in american history that make it
clear why he can't say they selected a king. what they did was follow the bloodline which was a strong tradition and guideline for the english, to select a person who met the requirements of the bloodline and yet would be a king to do what they needed to have done, which, frankly, was to be rid of james ii and his catholicism, to be placed with a protestant who was interested, they thought, in the development of a british culture and commerce. you must also understand that during burke's time, england was pretty much the america of today. it was a world power, had, i think, without dispute, the strongest, most powerful navy in the world. navys are obviously still an
enormous important, beginning to get more important, but in the period of the 1700s, a strong navy was absolutely essential if you were going to be a world power. so 1679 they executed their leader and they chose another leader. cromwell led the commonwealth. then in 1660, they chose another king. so we have, in the course of, what, 100 years, we have three chief executives selected by the english people without an
election but a very decided shift in control and who is in control. you would think that in the period between the time they executed charles i and the time they put william and mary in power that the country would have been in turmoil. but it really wasn't. it really wasn't. the country continued to be a commercial military success, it continued to grow, it grew without any serious disruption at home in terms of commerce or the day-to-day life of individuals. i should add that also in 1714, just before burke was born, they picked a whole new line.
william and mary died childless, they had no children, so they picked another king, selected him. so, again, we have four changes in the course of 100 years and england soldiered on. england continued to grow. commerce grew. england itself grew. there was, in that period of time, the country thrived. in that period of extreme, you would think turmoil, possibility for turmoil, there was little disruption. so this is the world into which burke was born, the world of a
politician, spent many, many years in parliament, was in leadership only a very short time, was in opposition much of that time. but burke's philosophy, i think, was shaped by those extremely important, potentially disruptive events which england survived and not only survived but thrived. through that whole period, parliament gained strength. in part because it was the vehicle for selecting the new king.
parliament, actually, when they restricted the thrown, there was no parliament. but parliament came together, created the restoration, delivered the throne to charles ii and then passed an act legitimizing themselves. in essence they said, well, we weren't really parliament when we chose the king, and now that he's chosen that he's here, we're in place, we're going to say we're in parliament. fairly smooth transition. we've had transitions in this country from president to president not as smooth as that was. so one of the burke tenets is that government is necessary, and there is a divergence on this point between burke and
payne. as a matter of fact, burke, much like blacksmith, said any government is better than no government. and clearly that 100 years before burke was born, and when he was becoming active in politics, a smoothly functioning government was essential, and was essential to the continuation of people's comfort and people's commercial developme development. you can't understand u.s. history and the growth of the people to select their leaders by means that were not revolutionary even if the glorious revolution was called a revolution. one of the things about burke, one of his biographers, utley,
pointed out that burke's development was because of his prolonged and undisciplined reading. think about that. prolonged and undisciplined reading. immersed in history. and that appreciation for history and that appreciation for how the country continued to develop through what could have been a very bumpy time is the basis for burke's philosophy. at all times, through all of those potential upheavals, the preservation of existing freedom was foremost in the english psyche. and that's how it became part of our psyche. burke saw that, understood like nobody else in his time, i
believe, and that might be unfair to blackstone, but like nobody else in his time did that preservation of existing freedoms was essential to progress and the goodness of human life. that is, the fullness of human life that you get to leave. understanding all the while that throughout this, every time there was a bump in the road, parliament came up with a little more power. and if you think about it, from charles i to where the british is now and to where we are now, in terms of the power of the people and of legislative bodies, you will understand that it is that development that shaped burke that has shaped the
britain of today and the united states of today. so when somebody asks you, as i asked my son many times when he was young, what are you reading now? you can tell them i'm doing prolonged and undisciplined reading. if it's good enough for burke, it's got to be good enough for you, dad. that undisciplined reading, i suspect, had a lot to do with history, and he certainly had a history that was full of lessons and full of potential pitfalls to deal with as he came into his own as a politician and as i said, always in op pposition except for a very brief time. he was the period of enlightenment, the age of reason. at that time they were just
beginning to roll over into romanticism. burke was not really -- is not really a man of either of those philosophies, which makes him all the more interesting. he was pretty much a man of his own philosophy and own undisciplined reading. he had his debates with rousso, who was more a believer of the goodness of man. burke was not, evidently. burke realized that man, woman, left to their own devices, without government, wouldn't lead very happy lives, wouldn't understand much progress and
wouldn't progress. so for him, the romantic notion that you can create government out of reason which i believe is essentially where the french were after the french revolution and before, they destroyed the model. burke never thought that that was an alternative. he never separated human reason from historical experience. remember particularly two words from that sentence. one, history; two, experience. they are two, along with tradition which is the third, keys to who burke was and what burke thought. and when i suggested to you that you might say to somebody, okay,
you think you're a conservative, what do you think about burke, and they say, i don't think anything about burke, did he play third base for the cincinnati reds or what? then you can ask him what they think about history, what they think about tradition, what they think about experience as a foundation for society and for a political philosophy. if you think about it and you look back on all that i've talked about that happened in the hundred years before burke was born and immediately preceding burke birt's birth, experience, that is experience of the people with experiences they were confronted, is something that if you considered, you saw how to get from point a to point b with minimum disruption experience.
you look at history. what is it that we are trying to preserve? what is it about our way of life that is most important to us? to rousseau, it was probably man's ability to figure out how to make everything better. to burke, it was to figure out how do i keep progress coming? not fast, not abrupt, but keep it coming. i talked a minute ago about the progress of parliament through -- from regicide to the choosing of the haniverse in the 1700s. parliament was always there. the day-to-day life of englishmen didn't change all
that much. they focused on history, daily experience, past experience, and tradition. now, people think of tradition in terms of something dry. tradition isn't dry at all. tradition is the everyday life of today looked at 40 years hence. and one of the concerns of today is that we may be abandoning tradition and years of experience which have kept us progressive. that's a thought about burke that applies to today. and you need to ask yourselves
whether, when candidates talk in terms of the america as we have known it, what burke's position would have been. and more importantly, what is our position going to be as we have choices to make going forward? bur burke, tradition, history, experience, survival in times of potential upheaval, i think describes why great britain today and the united states today are so very different than virtually any other model of government in the world. and yes, they've got a king and we've got a president that we
elect every four years, but have you ever asked yourself why are there such difficulties in other parts of the world with what we assume is second nature? well, it's because it is second nature, and it's second nature because we have respected history and tradition and experience. and that has produced two pretty good countries in which to live. but you see how i'm getting from executing king charles to 2012? there is a continuum of development in the united states, a continuum that burke not only would have understood,
but i suspect would have expected. one of the notions of conservatism is that it is a suggestion of change. and i think you will hear that as a simplistic explanation from most any liberal you get into a serious conversation with. that's not really true. it isn't a resistance to change. it is a resistance to the rejection of history, tradition and experience, and what people are saying today, regardless of how you feel about the health care plan, i think you must concede that it is a significant
change in a tradition that involves a very large part of american economic society. so i'm not here to say i have my vie views. you can probably guess what they are, but i'm not here to say that we shouldn't change no more than burke would say you shouldn't change. i am here to say how you do the change matters. and the fact that the english and then the americans who were, after all, for the most part english when we started this experiment, how they viewed --
when the american revolution was over, there were people who offered burke the crown. when you think about burke and philosophy and you know about people on earth, you can understand why people would say, hey, it's not william and mary, it's not george iii, but it looks like the way to move forward without radical change. the secret to our success and to our foundation is that we got past that with a pretty radical change. did you ever wonder what would have happened if george washington had said, okay, not a bad idea.
it might have worked. might have worked. but i think at that point we had understood that we could make the change, we could keep the tradition, we could embrace the progress without going back to a king. anyway, what would burke have said about that? i guess burke was alive when washington was offered the crown. i have not seen in the readings anywhere what he said, but maybe that's what i want to do. maybe if i get in the one question of an historical figure, maybe i want to ask burke, what if we had crowned george, our george -- sort of their george, anyway -- as well? can't separate human